One step forward, two steps back.
That seemed to be the problem all game for Benjamin Russell’s football team a week ago.
The Wildcats finally got a positive play, only to follow it by losing a few yards. They’d get a first down then immediately get sacked or throw an interception. They picked off a ball then were forced to punt three plays later.
It just seemed like nothing was going their way last Friday night against Stanhope Elmore, and that’s going to be the main focus tonight as the Wildcats hit the road for Selma and a Class 6A Region 3 matchup.
“It’s more of a situation where we really need some good things to happen and we need to play consistently on offense,” Benjamin Russell coach Kevin Smith said. “To win big, you’ve got to be able to play in those situations but it seemed like it was always key moments where we backed ourselves into a corner and it was hard to get out of. That’s the definition of having consistency.”
Defensive pressure has proven to be an Achilles’ heel for BRHS (1-2, 0-1), and it’s expecting to see more of that this week.
Selma (1-1, 0-1) has shown some serious defensive strides this year, holding the tough Opelika squad to just 23 points. Last year, the Bulldogs scored 60 points on Selma. And one thing the Wildcats are certainly expecting is the Saints are going to bring the pressure up front.
“Last year, it looked like to me they lined up every snap defensively and they played zero coverage and they sent the house,” Smith said. “They said, ‘You may beat us, but whatever you do, you better do it fast.’ So whatever we do, we’re going to have to get it out of (Carter Smith’s) hands fast or move on the perimeter. I don’t know if they’ll go back to that same game plan but they’ve shown some of that this year a little bit.”
Carter Smith is also looking to get back to how he did the first two games. Smith was under a ton of pressure against Clay Central, but he seemed to keep his composure very well. The Wildcats’ offensive line didn’t do a lot in the way of protecting him, but Smith did a lot with his feet and made some quick decisions. He never seemed to lose his cool.
Last week, he faced that same pressure and did seem to let his emotions get the best of him at times.
“I think he was a little frustrated last week; he was getting hit quite a bit,” Kevin Smith said. “One of the things we’re going to do is we gotta get the ball out of his hands quick. The passing game is pretty much set up to get it out quick, and if you’re going to bring that many people, we need to be able to screen you.”
The Wildcats have also added a blocker up front that should help with finding more success in the running game. And although Hezekiah Hunter didn’t put up his typical numbers, he did get stronger and stronger through the game.
BRHS is moving pieces around as Elijah Spivey has been battling a nagging hamstring injury and Jay Davis is expected to miss at least a couple weeks with a knee injury.
But defensively, the secondary will need to be on its A game against Selma, especially on the left side. Smith said on film, the Saints tend to favor the left side of the field.
More important than anything, though, the Wildcats are looking to play up to their potential and Smith is hoping they can put the last two weeks behind them for good.
“Kids are a lot more resilient than we are,” Smith said. “There’s not been any head hanging. It’s been upbeat; practices have been good. The importance of this week is about feeling good about how we played. Win, lose or draw, we need to come out feeling that we made a stride to get better. We can’t look at anything down the road; we just have to look at what’s going to happen (tonight) between 7 and 9 p.m.”